Our veteran of the week, Walter Prichard, of Oklahoma City, served in World War II as a member of the United States Army.
Our organization is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that relies on donations to be able to provide services to the thousands of veterans and their families who need assistance.
We accept the donations of cars, trucks, motorcycles or other types of items that can be given to veterans or sold to raise funds to provide for veterans' needs. Your donations should be tax deductible.
I want to acknowledge the Masonic Lodge of Oklahoma for their generous contribution of $25,000 to help us in our mission to improve the lives of all veterans and their families. Without the help of the men and women who we serve and the support of other corporate donors, what we do would not be possible.
For those of you who have not visited us, you would probably be surprised to see over 150 men and women lined up outside our doors waiting for us to open. Our official start time is 5:30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but we try to open earlier if we have enough volunteers to start our day.
Last week, we provided claims assistance to over 300 veterans and surviving spouses. We use an evidence-based claims system that works for most veterans to be approved for eligible VA benefits.
I visited with some of our medical providers last week, and they shared with me that some other veterans' service officers from the DAV started encouraging veterans they help to use some of our providers to fill out VA Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQ) for evidence to support their claims for VA benefits.
One of the most important things that veterans should have is their DBQ evidence, as the VA will send them to their medical evaluators -- QTC, LHI or VES -- that will use the same DBQ form to evaluate the veteran's disability. By using that evidence, the veteran will have a better chance at having their claims for disability approved.
Just when I think we have seen it all, something will come that has never been heard of. One of the types of claims that continue to increase is military sexual assault (MST). Every week, men and women come forward with a claim of MST during their service time.
Today's military leadership has probably addressed that issue enough to improve most servicemen and women's lives. I hope to never see another person go through the life-shattering experiences that some military members had. It's difficult on the survivors of assault.
One of the first things we do when we identify a person who has been assaulted is to encourage them to visit with our counselors from the Vet Center, who is available each Tuesday and Thursday. We provide a volunteer of the same sex to guide them through the VA claims system as they apply for VA benefits.
We have several medical providers who are available to fill out a PTSD DBQ to use as evidence. Several years ago, one lady we assisted had been assaulted in 1970 by a senior military member. She had suffered throughout her life, blaming herself for someone else's action. Sometimes we can help victims of MST find closure after they have finished and received VA benefits for what happened to them.
We are available every Tuesday and Thursday morning at 1268 N. Interstate Drive, Norman, OK 73072. We open the doors by 5:30 and begin working as soon as volunteers have computers ready.
Visit dalekgrahamveteransfoundation.org for more information, or contact us at 550-8806.
Thank you to all veterans and their families for their service to the United States of America. Semper fi.
Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation is not affiliated with any other organization. Dale K. Graham is a VA accredited claims agent.